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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.03.11: Eurozone debt crisis intensifies on eve of summit - 2 views

  • Moody's cut Spain's debt rating yesterday (10 March), pushing the euro lower and deepening the sense of crisis in the 17-nation currency bloc on the eve of a crucial EU summit in Brussels.
  • A French presidential source said euro zone leaders would discuss Portugal's measures to cope with its financial problems at Friday's summit but they were not working on a rescue plan. EU sources said Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates is under intense pressure from his peers and the European Central Bank to announce additional austerity measures and accelerate economic reforms. The sources said he would make a statement to the leaders at the start of a summit on Friday on his commitment to deeper reforms, including to the labour market
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

08.03.11 ECB turned blind eye to predatory lending, ex-EU-ambassador says - 1 views

  • The European Central Bank turned a blind eye to "irresponsible lending" by German, French, British and Belgian banks, the European Union's former ambassador to the United States, John Bruton has said. In a damning speech at the London School of Economics on Monday (7 March) evening, Mr Bruton, also a former Irish prime minister of the same conservative political stripe as the current leader-elect, Enda Kenny, has accused Frankfurt of failing to use its powers to rein in speculative bubbles in countries such as Ireland and Spain.
  • "From 2000 on, British, German, Belgian, French banks, and banks of other EU countries lent irresponsibly to the Irish banks in the hope that they too could profit from the then obtaining Irish construction bubble," he said. "They were supervised by their home central banks, and by the ECB ... who seemingly raised no objection to this lending."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.03.11: European Socialists propose alternative to Barroso-Van-Rompuy pact - 0 views

  • Europe's Socialist leaders have proposed a ‘growth pact' as an alternative to the ‘competitiveness pact' originally proposed by France and Germany as a solution to the bloc's economic woes. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and most of the continent's social democratic leaders, many of whom currently sit on opposition benches in their parliaments, including French Socialist leader Martine Aubry and Germany's head of the SPD, Sigmar Gabriel, met at a summit in Athens to co-ordinate their strategy ahead of an EU summit where a ‘comprehensive response' to the eurozone crisis is to be finalised.
  • The centre-left leaders endorsed a plan that still backs austerity, but alongside it the introduction of a financial transactions tax that they say would deliver €250 billion a year to European coffers that could be invested in green technologies and infrastructure.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.03.11: Centre-right leaders prepare economic battle-lines - 0 views

  • Europe's centre-right leaders are gathering in Helsinki to prepare the political family's strategy ahead of two crucial summits on economic issues later this month. An overhaul of the bloc's emergency lending fund, fiscal discipline and measures to boost economic competitiveness are all high on the agenda of Friday (4 March) evening's meeting. Print Comment article "We are preparing for the eurozone summit on 11 March so we can agree on significant measures there to stabilise the euro and strengthen the competitiveness of the EU," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists prior to the talks.
  • Berlin meanwhile is keen so see any changes to Europe's emergency lending fund accompanied by tough new fiscal laws and measures to boost the economic competitiveness of member states.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.03.11: Denmark eyeing referendum on euro - 0 views

  • The EU's economic convergence plans are forcing Denmark to reconsider its euro opt-out, with a referendum on "modernising" Copenhagen's relation with Brussels possibly taking place by June. With plans for a "Competitiveness Pact" currently being drafted by EU institutions to replace a Franco-German draft on pensions harmonisation and constitutional "debt brakes", Denmark does not want to be left out of the decision-making process, due to not being in the single currency.
  • Dubbed the "Big Bang model", a referendum on all three opt-outs may be more successful than holding a referendum just on euro adoption, with 45 percent of Danes in favour of this move, according to a Megafon poll carried out in February. But the margin is still narrow, with 43 percent opposing it and 12 percent undecided. A strong advocate for Denmark's euro-accession is Belgian Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt, who points to the fact that the country's economy is already fully integrated into the eurozone and that the Danish krone is pegged to the euro. In addition, he believes that there is a need for a small country like Denmark to counter-balance Germany and France who "dictated" the competitiveness pact being currently drafted for the 17 member-strong eurozone.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.02.11: Lukewarm response to Barroso-Van-Rompuy economic plan - 1 views

  • New proposals on joint economic governance put forward by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy on Monday (28 February) have failed to overcome resistance from some member states.
  • The Barroso-Van-Rompuy plan does contain a requirement that German-style 'debt brakes' be implemented across the eurozone, however. Resistance to this element comes from those who do not want to open the Pandora's Box of constitutional amendments this could entail. Opposition to the Franco-German pact also revolved around the proposal that countries that maintain inflation-indexed wage systems abandon this practice. Belgium and Luxembourg in particular were resistant.
  • As key figures on the left in Europe, including within the commission itself, have begun to issue their misgivings over the path of austerity chosen by the EU as a response to the crisis, the commission warned social democrats that throughout the crisis, they have also backed this process. Last week, Greece's EU commissioner, Maria Damanaki, publicly distanced herself from EU austerity, saying it is leading to "social degradation." Former commission president Jacques Delors, a French Socialist, has also called the commission's recent Annual Growth Survey, a first step in the EU's new system of oversight of and intervention in national budgets, as "The most reactionary document ever produced by the commission."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12-01-11: EU considers increase of bail-out fund, as debt crisis rumbles on - 0 views

  • Against a background of growing fears that the eurozone's rescue fund would be insufficient should Spain or Belgium knock on its doors, the European Union's economy chief has called for a hike in the effective lending capacity of the EU's bail-out mechanism. "We need to review all options for the size and scope of our financial backstops - not only for the current ones but also for the permanent European stability mechanism too," EU economics and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn wrote on Wednesday in an opinion piece in the Financial Times.
  • The commissioner issued the call after member-state representatives met in the European capital to discuss proposals to boost the fund ahead of a meeting of European finance ministers next week. Mr Rehn also issued a stark warning that for all the deficit-slashing austerity measures that European states have so far imposed, it is not enough. "There is insufficient ambition and a lack of urgency in implementation. That needs to change," he wrote.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.01.11: Core EU states put squeeze on Portugal to accept bail-out - 0 views

  • Major European powers are putting the squeeze on Portugal to follow Greece and Ireland and knock on the doors of EU and IMF bail-out resources. Reports over the weekend quote senior European sources as saying Berlin, Paris and other core eurozone capitals are leaning heavily on Lisbon to apply for a financial rescue, although the Portuguese government continues to deny that any pressure is being mounted.
  • The eurozone core fears that if a firewall is not built around Portugal, investor nervousness could spread to Spain, a much larger economy than those of the two states - Greece and Ireland - that have already been bailed out. However, formal negotiations with Lisbon have yet to begin, the source continued, and discussions have yet to match the pace of similar talks ahead of the Greek bail-out last May or that of Ireland last November. Should Portugal decide to ask for a rescue, the bill would amount to between €60 and €80 billion, the source said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

07.01.11: Brussels wants bondholders to help pay for future bank failures - 0 views

  • The public would be spared from further pain in bailing out banks in the future, with bondholders instead footing more of the bill under plans unveiled on Thursday (6 January) by the European Commission to give EU national regulators more powers to intervene ahead of any crisis.
  • "The impact on taxpayers is obvious," the EU executive said in a statement, adding that the existing arrangements covering how to deal with such crises retained "serious shortcomings." "We must put in place a system which ensures that Europe is well prepared to deal with bank failures in an orderly manner - without taxpayers being called on again to pay the costs," said internal market commissioner Michel Barnier.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Hungary outlines EU presidency priorities (SETimes.com) - 0 views

  • Hungary, which is due to replace Belgium at the EU helm on January 1st, has said that further consolidation and enlargement of the 27-nation bloc will be among the key priorities of its six-month chairmanship of the Union.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.12.10: European Parliament condems the outcome of the European Council - 0 views

  • The centre and left of the European Parliament have robustly condemned the outcome of the European Council, complaining that the interest of the bloc as a whole has been sidelined in favour of national interests. It is common for the groups in the parliament to criticise the results of European summits, but the missives issued the afternoon following the meeting were abnormally trenchant.
  • The Party of European Socialists "condemned" the result, attacking the "conservative leaders" who hold a majority in the Council. "The Conservative leaders are fundamentally mistaken. Yet again they have failed to take control of the crisis," said Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister and leader of the PES. "The reaction of the Markets illustrates this clearly." Mr Rasmussen pointed to the overnight downgrading of Irish bonds by the Moody's credit agency as signifying that the investors were unconvinced by the council's plan. He warned that the EU Council had put itself in "direct conflict" with the parliament over its refusal to countenance any move towards debt issuance at the EU level. "The German, British, Swedish and Dutch Governments formed a roadblock to progress on the eurobonds issue. So blatantly putting national interest before European recovery is short-termist and lacking in leadership," he said.
  • The European Parliament must be consulted on the treaty change, but it has no co-decision power under the 'simplified revision procedure' - the new method the EU leaders are using to deliver the limited treaty change while avoiding any national referendums. But, depending on the fine print of how the permanent bail-out fund is constructed, it may have approval powers. The EU prime ministers and presidents at the summit did not take any decisions on the details of the fund. According to a parliamentary legal expert, if the European Council itself develops the mechanism on an 'intergovernmental' basis, and the fund is similar to the existing €440 billion rescue mechanism, which involves a series of loan guarantees by member states, then the chamber will only be consulted, as with the treaty change. But if the EU is asked to develop and present a proposal, or if it involves any direct EU funds as well as national loan guarantees, then "this is part of the community method, and the parliament has co-decision powers". The Greens also said that the permanent crisis mechanism "will not be enough to get Europe out of the crisis."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.12.10: Should Slovakia prepare the re-introduction of its national currency? - 0 views

  • Slovakia, which joined the eurozone last year, should have a 'plan B' to return to its national currency, the country's parliamentary speaker, Richard Sulik, has said, amid frustration over the way the eurozone is handling the debt crisis. "The time is ripe for Slovakia to stop blindly trust in what eurozone leaders say and prepare a plan B. This is the re-introduction of the Slovak koruna," Mr Sulik said in an opinion piece published in the bussiness daily Hospodarske noviny on Sunday (12 December).
  • The Slovak centre-right government has repeatedly called for private investors to feel the pain of any rescue operation under the eurozone umbrella. It considers the Greek bail-out a mistake that made European governments a hostage to financial markets. The parliamentary speaker said it is "irresponsible" for states to risk financial problems at home by taking on the liabilities of their debt-ridden colleagues under the European Financial Stability Facility, a temporary bail-out tool agreed in May and currently providing aid to Ireland.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.12.10: Treaty change to provide for a permanent European Stability Mechanism from mi... - 0 views

  • A two-sentence paragraph to be inserted into the Lisbon Treaty will prepare the legal groundwork for a permanent European Stability Mechanism (ESM) from mid-2013 onwards, under which the costs of future eurozone bail-outs may also be shared by sector private sector participants.

    "The member states whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality," reads the paragraph, contained in draft EU summit conclusions seen by this website on Monday (13 December).

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pressed EU leaders to accept the treaty change as she fears Germany's powerful constitutional court may raise objections to the €440 billion temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), agreed in May and set to provide aid to Ireland. While EU policymakers insist the temporary facility and earlier aid to Greece do not contravene the EU treaty's 'no bail-out clause', Berlin is keen to remove any legal uncertainty, with a number of legal challenges currently under examination by the German court.
  • The treaty change is to take place under a new procedure introduced under the Lisbon Treaty - the simplified revision procedure - allowing for limited treaty changes without the setting up of a convention, on condition that new powers are not transferred from the national to EU level. In the draft conclusions, EU leaders also call on euro area finance ministers and the commission to finalise work on setting up the permanent aid mechanism, including features that could force sovereign bond holders to accept diminished returns on their investments, should a eurozone government be forced to call for aid under the ESM from 2013 onwards. The move stands in marked contrast to aid terms recently agreed for Ireland, under which holders of Irish sovereign debt and senior debt in Irish banks were not forced to accept a 'haircut.' Instead, Irish taxpayers will indirectly pay back the €85 billion borrowed from the EU-IMF for many years to come. Analysts say this move was partially designed to prevent further instability in the European banking sector, with many firms considerably exposed to the Irish market.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.12.10 Germany wants political co-operation to be deepened - 0 views

  • German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said his country is willing to discuss greater harmonisation of eurozone tax policy, adding that the next decade is likely to see Europe take significant steps towards closer political union. The remarks, made in Germany's mass-selling Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday (12 December), come as EU leaders look set to agree a limited EU treaty change this week in order to set up a permanent crisis mechanism to provide financial support to struggling eurozone states.
  • Meeting in the German town of Freiburg on Friday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said eurozone leaders must draw a fundamental lesson from the ongoing debt crisis and take steps towards political integration, including the harmonisation of tax policies or labour law. These initiatives would foster greater convergence of eurozone economies and "show this is not just about currency issues but also about political co-operation, which has to be deepened," said Ms Merkel.
  • Germany has successfully won its demand for the permanent mechanism to include the private sector sharing in future bail-out costs, reports the BBC. Such a decision could significant raise the borrowing costs of 'peripheral' eurozone states, as investors demand extra yields to cover the costs of a potential debt restructuring under the new mechanism.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

02.11.10: Brussels lays down plans for permanent bailout mechanism - 0 views

  • With the future of the euro currency in the balance, the European Commission on Wednesday (1 December) outlined details for a permanent strategy to help countries at risk of defaulting on their debts.
  • The European Commission presented plans for fundamental treaty changes that will extend the current aid mechanism – the European Financial Stability Facility – beyond its 2013 sunset provision. Details of the proposal will be debated by European leaders at their next EU summit on 16-17 December. The changes, which have been rumoured in financial markets for weeks, would increase risk for sovereign investors. Under the proposal, bonds issued after June 2013 would include a provision to allow creditors to renegotiate new terms if the country is on the brink of insolvency.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.11.10: Is Slovakia the only member state recognizing the dangers of the current atte... - 0 views

  • Since it came to power in July this year, the Slovak centre-right government has called for private investors to feel the pain of any rescue operation under the eurozone umbrella. It considers the Greek bail-out "essentially a mistake" and a "precedent" that made European governments a "hostage" of financial markets. "If we continue this way, we are close to a pyramid scheme," the Slovak prime minister, Iveta Radicova, told journalists after the Wednesday government session dealing mainly with Ireland (24 November). She warned that a system of accumulating debts eventually risked falling like "a house made of cards". "Once again, taxpayers are expected to pay the bill. Once again, the banks are being rescued," Ms Radicova said, hinting that Lisbon and Madrid could be next going cap in hand to their EU colleagues.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.11.10: Merkel - euro in 'serious condition'. Rehn - adoption of the Irish budget in ... - 0 views

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday (23 November) warned that the euro is in an "exceptionally serious" situation as the European Commission issued a veiled warning to the Irish political class not to topple the government. "I don't want to paint a dramatic picture, but I just want to say that a year ago we couldn't imagine the debate we had in the spring and the measures we had to take," she said in a speech in Berlin to the Confederation of German Employers, the BDA.
  • Meanwhile, EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn issued a veiled warning to Irish opposition politicians not to topple the government. Speaking to reporters in Strasbourg asking about worries the Fianna Fail-Green government in Dublin could fall, Mr Rehn said: "Stability is important." "We don't have a position on the domestic democratic politics of Ireland but it is essential that the budget will be adopted in time and we will be able to conclude the negotiations on the EU-IMF programme in time."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.11.10: Ireland unveils radical austerity program to meet conditions of the EU-IMF ba... - 0 views

  • The Irish government has unveiled a far-reaching austerity package with sweeping cuts and tax hikes in an effort to meet the tough conditions of an €85 billion EU-IMF bail-out plan, an architecture of adjustment that will radically alter the very structure of how the country is run.
  • It is a plan that will hit every citizen and sector of the Irish economy, but will hit working people, students and low-income earners the hardest, a move that has already provoked both a deep fury from many but also a bitter resignation amongst others. Key measures include a slashing of welfare benefits, a hiking and broadening of income taxes, a sharp increase in university fees, the imposition of property taxes and water charges.
  • Dublin appears to have won the day against pressure from other EU member states and the commission that it hike its ultra-low corporation tax of 12.5 percent, calling the rate "a cornerstone of our industrial policy". Acquiescing to an IMF demand that labour costs be slashed, pay for minimum wage earners will be reduced by a full 12 percent, higher than the 10 percent that had been predicted, from €8.65 an hour to €7.65.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.11.10: Will Portugal and Spain be the next victims of the debt crisis? - 0 views

  • Portuguese, Spanish and EU leaders, alarmed at the seemingly unquenchable vengeance of this marketplace leviathan, insisted that the two Iberian nations were very far from having to follow Ireland and Greece in asking for bail-outs.
  • EU economics chief Olli Rehn sought to buttress the the standing of Portugal insisting on the "very different" situation between Lisbon and Dublin, while the head of the eurozone, Luxemburgish Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker described the market vigilantism against Portugal and Spain as "not justified". Railing against the state of affairs, Mr Rehn told MEPs on Monday: "Any talk of deconstruction of the European project is irresponsible. All member states would have been in a much more difficult situation without the European Union and its political shield."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.11.10: Ireland's corporate tax "non-negotiable"? - 0 views

  • Eurozone neighbours are pressing Ireland to raise the 12.5% corporation tax rate as part of negotiations for a rescue package but Dublin is resisting, arguing that it is crucial for foreign investment. Irish Deputy Prime Minister Mary Coughlan told parliament the corporate tax rate was "non-negotiable". European Minister Dick Roche echoed that comment, saying "it is certainly not up for negotiation". "There has been some very unhelpful chatter in the background in the last few days about our corporation profit tax. Where would be the sense of destroying one of the great drivers of growth?" he told BBC television. Britain and Germany have long viewed low Irish taxes as a form of unfair competition and the finance ministers of Austria and France said the corporation tax may have to be raised as part of any deal. Michael Meister, a deputy leader in parliament and finance expert for Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said the country needed to consider raising the levy. "The Irish rates are below the European Union average," Meister told Reuters on the sidelines of the CDU annual party congress on Tuesday (16 November). "I therefore see here at least a possibility, given the high [Irish] budget deficit, to improve revenues without causing a negative impact on growth," he added. Meister's comments come one day after Elmar Brok, a senior CDU lawmaker who has sat in the European Parliament since 1980, said Ireland may have no choice but to raise the rate. "Ireland has two options to consolidate its budget – cut expenses even further or increase taxes like the corporate tax rate," Brok said at the congress in Karlsruhe.
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